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January 27, 2022 | Volume 26, No. 1| Archives
Big Solutions Wither in Congress as COVID Continues to Rage
In This Issue:
  • Build Back Better Legislation
  • Voting Rights Legislation
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Mobile Crisis Services
  • Reproductive Care Task Force
  • Medical Respite Care: New Report on Continuums of Care Partnerships
  • What We’re Reading
  • We’re Hiring a Health Policy Manager!

Congress: Updates

Build Back Better Legislation
The Senate was supposed to vote before the end of 2021 on the Build Back Better Act, H.R. 5376 (see our fact sheet). This $1.75 trillion legislation includes major investments in health care, housing, education, jobs, climate, and other social programs -- investments that are desperately needed across the country. Unfortunately, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced at the last minute that he would not vote for it, thereby stalling progress.
Now, the bill may be broken into different packages in the hopes that something will be able to advance. While our priorities in the bill are the expansions of health care and housing investments, climate change and early childhood education are getting an early nod as priorities.
TAKE ACTION: The Senate needs to pass the bill with the health care and housing provisions intact. Find your U.S. Senators' contact information and send their office an email or voice message telling them to pass the Build Back Better Act without any further cuts to programs or funding. Remind them that people experiencing homelessness continue to die on the streets due to the inability to access housing and health care.
Voting Rights Legislation
In an appalling blow to democracy, two important pieces of legislation that would have protected voting rights and elections across the country were supposed to have been passed this month, but ultimately failed. Once again, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), joined by his colleague Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), refused to support the process identified to make a vote possible on these bills (a process involving the rules of the filibuster). The Freedom to Vote Act would have set national rules for elections (among other provisions) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Accountability Act would have restored the ability of the federal government to have oversight of state discriminatory laws.
Now, the HCH community will have to work even harder in order to register people experiencing homelessness to vote, and successfully turn out that vote. To this end, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness just published two resources: Step-by-Step Election Guide for Homeless Service Providers and Step-by-Step Voting Guide for People Experiencing Homelessness.

Biden Administration: Updates

COVID-19 Update
With the Omicron variant still surging in nearly every community, new CDC guidance on isolation, and free at-home tests available (for those with an address), it’s still a very busy time for those battling COVID-19. In case you missed it: We've summarized the newest issues and resources in our COVID-19 Flash Blasts from January 12 and January 26. As a reminder, this COVID-19 newsletter goes out every two weeks -- sign up here to get them directly!
For those who like research, don’t miss this new study from JAMA: Hospitalizations for COVID-19 Among US People Experiencing Incarceration or Homelessness, which shows that PEH are hospitalized at higher rates and for longer periods than the general population.
 New Medicaid Option for State Mobile Crisis Intervention Services
CMS has issued a new opportunity for states to provide enhanced mental health and substance use crisis care. See their press release for more information, as well as the guidance and planning grants they recently released.
HHS Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access
HHS has announced a new task force to facilitate collaborative, innovative, transparent, equitable, and action-oriented approaches to protect and bolster sexual and reproductive health. To this end, HHS awarded nearly $7 million to address increased need for family planning services in communities where restrictive laws and policies have impacted reproductive health access.
New Publication: Medical Respite Care and Continuums of Care
The Council recently partnered with The Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response to publish “Expanding Options for Health Care Within Homelessness Services: CoC Partnerships with Medical Respite Care Programs,” an issue brief illustrating how medical respite care (MRC) programs and Continuums of Care (CoC) can effectively partner to improve systems of care and better meet the health care needs of individuals experiencing homelessness.
The brief describes existing service gaps, perspectives from MRC and CoC program staff, and action steps that can be taken to improve collaborations, and spotlights the CoC-MRC partnership in Yakima, Washington. While all communities are unique in their own way, CoC staff, homelessness services providers, and MRC program staff, as well as hospital systems and Medicaid payers, should use this document as a guide for improving health and housing outcomes.
What We're Reading

Wanted: A Health Policy Manager

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We are hiring for a Health Policy Manager, a position based in either Baltimore, MD, or Washington, D.C.
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Barbara DiPietro
Senior Director of Policy
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
(443) 703-1346 
This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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